Monthly Archives: October 2009

[rosemary, black walnuts, frost]

Looks like another of my rosemary plants has bit the dust. And this one did so very early in the season. Too bad, because it was a very elegantly trained tree form rosemary.

I brought this rosemary plant indoors a couple of weeks ago. With outside air streaming in through frequently opened windows and flames dancing in the woodstove only occasionally, the plant, along with other newly moved houseplants, would – should – have had time to gradually acclimate to the drier, warmer air indoors. I paid careful attention to watering, even filled the saucers beneath the pots with water to raise the local humidity and supply some water from below by capillary action.

The photo at left is of my rosemary plant pre-death.

I evidently didn’t pay enough attention to the rosemary tree. The problem with …

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[broccoli, uncommon fruits, nuts]

A few months ago I wrote that I once saw eye to eye with ex-President Bush – that was H. W. Bush, and we saw eye to eye about broccoli. Neither of us thought much of broccoli, in my case, it was my own, home-grown broccoli that failed to please.

This year I thought I’d make a real effort to grow good broccoli to see if perhaps I could effect an about face. The crop from my first planting was awful. I persevered with a second planting, sown in seed flats in June, for a fall crop. I gave each plant adequate spacing (2 feet apart in the row, 2 rows per 3 foot wide bed), planted them in soil enriched with soybean meal and an inch depth of compost, and kept an eye out for cabbage worms. The heads have been …

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[commonground fair, eliot coleman, pawpaws]

Along with tens of thousands of other people, I descended this past weekend upon the small town of Unity, Maine, population 555. The attraction that drew all of us to this little town a half hour inland from the coast was the Common Ground Fair, sponsored and on the grounds of MOFGA, the Maine Organic Farming and Gardening Association (www.mofga.org).

The Common Ground Fair is a real old-time country fair focusing on farming, gardening, and rural skills such as timber frame construction, weaving, and tanning hides. No glitzy midway or bumper car rides at this fair. Instead, there are horse-drawn rides and demonstrations such as mowing with oxen, natural hoof care, and border collies herding ducks and sheep. Garden and farming talks covered everything from starting a vegetable garden to growing grain to – my own presentations – landscaping with fruit plants and …

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[canned tomatoes, houseplant scale, zinnias]

Canned tomatoes

 

I’m hunkering down for winter, which includes capturing what I can of summer’s bounty in jars and dried and frozen garden produce. With this year’s rainy weather, tomato yields fell far short of expectations. Still, I have 19 shiny quart jars lined up on a shelf in the basement so far, and plan to eke out a few more before the season of summer vegetables comes to an end.

A past neighbor of mine used to begin the process of canning tomatoes by alternating layers of tomatoes with salt in tall, half-bushel baskets. Other gardeners begin by peeling, perhaps seeding, their tomatoes. As for myself, I opt for the quickest method possible, which is: Cut off any bad spots and drop the tomatoes into a large pot with just a half inch of …

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